COLUMBIA FALLS – The family of Conrad Peabody, the 27-year-old blueberry field worker who lost his arm in an industrial accident last month, has expressed its gratitude for community support during his recovery.
“The tragedy itself was horrible, but the support has made it bearable,” Melina Peabody, his wife, said Tuesday from their Columbia Falls home.
“All the letters and donations we have received have just been so remarkable. We want to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ from me and my husband.”
Peabody returned home Dec. 23. He had told doctors he wanted to be home by Christmas, but they doubted his recovery would be far enough along by then.
But it was, and the family was together for Christmas.
“He surprised everybody,” Melina Peabody said.
It took young C.J. Peabody, the couple’s 6-year-old son, more than two hours to open all the Christmas gifts the community had donated at a benefit supper in Addison, his mother said.
The dinner alone, on a Thursday evening with bad weather, brought in more than $1,400 in cash. A group of University of Maine at Machias nursing students organized the fund-raiser.
Peabody endured three major operations to fix his right arm, left hip and left leg. He also is recovering from two collapsed lungs, a dislocated right elbow and a broken collarbone.
He did not realize the full impact of his injuries until a few weeks after the accident.
Peabody was injured Nov. 17 while burning blueberry fields in Columbia that belong to R.T. Allen Sons Inc. of Ellsworth. Working alone just after noon, he was off his tractor to adjust the drive shaft of the attached burner when he became entangled.
Treated first at Eastern Maine Medical Center, he was flown to Beth Israel West Hospital in Boston for the surgeries.
Melina Peabody, who works at the Washington County Jail, continues to stay home as her husband mends. He is visited by a home nurse and physical therapist. His next step, still some weeks away, will be managing to walk again.
Melina Peabody’s time away from work was made possible by donations of her co-workers’ accumulated sick time and vacation days.
The Peabodys were particularly touched by a card and $50 check that arrived from David Calder of Everett, Wash.
“He said he was a Down Easter, too, and that we Down Easters needed to stick together,” she said.